I would be lying if I told you that I was completely satisfied with the fact that there isn't a single player on my top ten list who was picked lower than the third round. This only goes to show that it is very difficult to find a high impact type of player in the latter rounds of the draft(at least it is for the Panthers). It completely makes sense that the majority of your franchise changing players will mostly be taken in the first three rounds, but it would definitely be sweet to hit the lottery every once in a while like the Patriots did when they stumbled upon Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft.
The two main criteria I used for my rankings were simple. The first one had everything to do with how well they played during their career with the Panthers, and the second was directly related to where they were picked. Let me give you an example of how this played out. I came to my own conclusion that Ryan Kalil and Jon Beason have essentially played to a draw in terms of their impact since being drafted in 2007. The fact that Kalil was picked a round later than Beason was all the information I needed to place our All-Pro center ahead of our All-Pro linebacker. With that being said, this exercise was completely subject to my own opinions, as are all of these lists. Feel free to post your own rankings in the comment thread, and don't be afraid to challenge my reasoning.
Final note: After completing this top ten, I was surprised to find that there were nine different positions represented. The only position that was repeated was.......you'll find out soon enough. See you on the other side.
10. QB Cam Newton 2011 Draft First Round Pick #1
9. DE Julius Peppers 2002 Draft First Round Pick #2
8. LT Jordan Gross 2003 Draft First Round Pick #8
7. RB Deangelo Williams 2006 Draft First Round Pick #27
6. CB Chris Gamble 2004 Draft First Round Pick #28
5. DT Kris Jenkins 2001 Draft Second Round Pick #44
4. WR Muhsin Muhammad 1996 Draft Second Round #43
3. MLB Jon Beason 2007 Draft First Round Pick #25
2. C Ryan Kalil 2007 Draft Second Round Pick # 59
1. WR Steve Smith 2001 Draft Third Round Pick #74